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Real Life Money

An Honest Guide to Taking Control of Your Finances

By Clare Seal
15-minute read
Audio available
Real Life Money by Clare Seal

Real Life Money (2020) is part memoir, part financial guide. Through describing her own painful struggle with debt, author Clare Seal sets out a path for anyone wanting to get a handle on their finances. She examines the complex personal relationships that many of us have with money, as well as the social and economic factors that determine our circumstances.

  • Anyone struggling with debt
  • Millennials with their finances in disarray
  • Renters worried they’ll never get a foot on the property ladder

Clare Seal runs the popular Instagram account @myfrugalyear, which details her life in debt. Her articles on finance, debt, and the challenges facing millennials have appeared in The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Grazia, and Hello! Magazine.

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Real Life Money

An Honest Guide to Taking Control of Your Finances

By Clare Seal
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Real Life Money by Clare Seal
Synopsis

Real Life Money (2020) is part memoir, part financial guide. Through describing her own painful struggle with debt, author Clare Seal sets out a path for anyone wanting to get a handle on their finances. She examines the complex personal relationships that many of us have with money, as well as the social and economic factors that determine our circumstances.

Key idea 1 of 9

If you’re struggling with your finances, it may be because the circumstances are outside of your control. 

Are you one of those people who can’t bear to check their bank balance at an ATM? Do you push warning letters from the bank under a pile of magazines, far out of sight? You’re not alone.

If your finances are a mess, take a breath. While it’s important to take ownership of your situation and take steps to get back on track, not all of it is your fault. When it comes to money, one thing that puts many people at a disadvantage is a lack of financial knowledge.

The key message here is: If you’re struggling with your finances, it may be because the circumstances are outside of your control. 

Consider the state of financial education. In UK schools, there is none – not a single class on the subject. So when, at 16- or 18-years-old, students leave for either work or university, most don’t have the faintest idea about savings, debt, or mortgages. 

In the case of the author, the only time she recalls talking about money at school was when an eccentric teacher boasted about successfully manipulating a store-credit scheme. Other than that, nothing! 

Instead, financial education is a job that’s often left to parents. And that can be a lottery – lots of people aren’t born to parents who know about money. Though they might be able to teach lots of other valuable things, it’s a rare few who’ll know about, say, investing or mortgages. 

As well as being disadvantaged by a lack of financial education, lots of young people are also affected by the broader economic situation. Since the 2008 financial crisis, many people have struggled through no fault of their own. In the United Kingdom, things are especially dire. The Conservative government has watered down protections that once guaranteed job security and rising wages. And, with secure work hard to come by, it’s become more difficult to put money aside – whether toward a pension, for a home, or even to avoid going into debt.

This financial insecurity is a much bigger problem than individual failings. In January 2019, the average UK household debt stood at £15,400. It’s clearly a bigger problem than people overspending on holidays, clothes, and trendy furniture they’ve seen on Instagram!

While there are concrete things you can do to improve your financial position, it’s important to remember: it’s not all your fault.

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